September 2012


 

Because we know that life is an adventure involving both chaos and order we sometimes want desperately to control things. And whenever our fear grows too strong we become vulnerable to simple promises concerning the future. But no one knows what the future holds—all of that is hidden in the darkest night. The future is being created by all of us, and it is a messy and confusing process. What is needed is courage to live in the midst of the ambiguities of this moment without drawing back into fear and compulsion to control.

Are there guarantees? No, none. But there are reasons for confidence.

When the universe was just quarks and leptons, could anyone have known that it was in the process of bringing forth stars and galaxies? Or later, when Earth emerged, and life existed in the form of tiny jiggling cells, could anyone have seen in them the possibilities of the bluefin tuna or a vast temperate rain forest? We find ourselves inside an amazing drama filled with danger and risk but also stunning creativity. This has happened many times in the past. Two billion years ago, when the atmosphere became so filled with oxygen, all of life was deteriorating. The only way for the life of that time to survive was to burrow deep into the mud at the bottom of the oceans. The future of Earth seemed bleak. And yet, in the midst of that crisis a new kind of cell emerged, one that was not destroyed by oxygen, but was in fact energized by it. Because of this miracle of creativity, life exploded with an exuberance never seen before.

It is in the nature of the universe to move forward between great tensions, between dynamic opposing forces. If the creative energies in the heart of the universe succeeded so brilliantly in the past, we have reason to hope that such creativity will inspire us and guide us into the future. In this way, our own generativity becomes woven into the vibrant communities that constitute the vast symphony of the universe.

 

—Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker
Journey of the Universe

“Houdi” drinking from chickens’ water pan

The fluffy girls

                                                   Photo by Ann McFerron

We are enjoying
the rabbits a great deal
these days.
The six girls seem to take after their mother,
who is a Lion Head.
They all have the mane
around their heads
and the mane doesn’t stop
on a couple of them:
they are total-body-sticky-outy-fur fluff balls.
Two of  the three boy rabbits
we put in a separate pen
with their Pappa
haven’t been seen in weeks now.
For awhile,
we thought they were too shy
to come out from the burrows.
But there are no indications
that they ever come out,
so we have no idea
what happened to them.
The third boy rabbit is black
sans mane
and lives not with Pappa
in the rabbit village,
but takes free run of the barn
and the alpaca pasture
and goat pen.
He has spent a couple of nights
outside
and so far has outwitted
any predators
(currently, there’s another possum in the barn
and it has outwitted our trap.)
Ann and Frank have named the black rabbit:
“Houdi,” short for Houdini.

Our guests love seeing the rabbits
as much as we do.
The girl rabbits come out and sniff at shoes
and devour lettuce we bring.
I don’t know what it is about cute animals
that affects humans so,
but I’m glad for every giggle I hear.

We brought the rabbits to the farm
for their manure,
because Red Wiggler Worms,
which we raise for producing soil
from kitchen scraps, manure and paper,
love rabbit manure.
Originally, we kept the rabbits in hutches
and put pans underneath to catch their pellets.
Now the rabbits are free to roam the pens.
They tend to drop their pellets
in one area, or two,
so it’s not hard to harvest their manure.
This morning was the day
and I was pleased
at how much more rabbit manure
this larger family is producing.
Now there seems to be a reason-beyond-cuteness
for having such a large rabbit community.
(We are glad to have separated males and females,
limiting the size of our rabbit
since one couple can start a population
quickly: something like 3,000 rabbits
in a year.)
We are getting quite a manure crop
for our worms!
This morning, I delivered a bucket full
of rich rabbit droppings to the worms,
who I know,
if they could,
would giggle in delight
about those fluff ball rabbits.

The front porch
is my sit spot—
the place I go each day
to observe the natural world.
Too,
it is my thin place—
where I connect most readily
with Life/Love/Being.
The thick arms
of a 70-year-old Hackberry
anchor one corner
and the prairie,
the other.
It looks to the north,
where I watch birds, alpacas, goats, chickens, guineas,
rabbits, birds, coyotes, grasshoppers,
honeybees, dragonflies, wasps, butterflies
live their lives.
And cats.
One recent morning,
I was charmed by a mamma and kitten
casually playing, napping, exploring
in the sunny flower beds;
kitten returning frequently from her explorations
to rub against Mamma
who usually gently encouraged the little one
to go about her investigations
and let Mamma nap in the sun.

Mamma and Kitten on morning outing

Kitten

Checking in with Mamma

Drowsy Mamma

Inquisitive One

Last evening,
after the table was cleared,
with mugs of India Spice tea in hand,
two visiting friends and I
took to the rockers on the front porch.
A breeze from the east
pushed air, soft and cool,
across our faces.
Sisters of Earth all,
we rocked gently
and talked
and sipped—
grateful for the cool air,
the alpacas sitting down for the night,
fowl quieting in the barn,
wasps making for home in the porch eaves
as darkness fell around us.
We could say what we wanted:
the things we struggle with,
the passions that drive us,
the questions we hold,
and always, ultimately,
the commitment to our beautiful planet home,
that carries us
forward.
After all is said and done—
or not—
we come back
to the gratitude
for moments together
on our porches.
Suddenly last night, we realized
that familiar bright, white light
had filled the darkness
and we stepped off the porch,
looking to the southeast
knowing what we’d see,
and exclaiming
our unfettered excitement at seeing
the three-quarter moon,
one more time.

Before bedtime
the southern sky was flashing
and during the night,
the lightning was everywhere.
Nevertheless,
I didn’t expect rain
because lightning all around
the night before
had heralded
none.
At some point last night,
I awoke to a strange, soft sound.
I got up and went to the front porch.
There was rain.
I sat in the rocker
in the cool,
smelling the rain,
soaking in the realness of it.
Something was moving
off the front of the porch.
It wasn’t a cat,
I knew,
since cats avoid getting wet.
It was a large armadillo,
shiny wet,
its pointy nose rooting through the grass
as if its life depended
on finding food.

Wild Turkeys on the North Kaffka Place

The Hummingbirds
are gone,
whirring south for winter.
And I think the grasshoppers
are diminishing
because the Guinea Fowl
are going farther afield,
venturing into the backyard this morning,
where Joe startled them
into flight.
They landed safely
in the alpaca pasture.
The dogs allow the Guinea Fowl
in the front yard at the farm house,
but evidently not
in the back yard.
Down at the pecan grove,
wild turkeys
are on the move as well.
This is the first year
for a pecan harvest
in a grove our father planted
about ten years ago.
We know we’ll have to share
with the turkeys
and the deer,
but we’re moving into high gear
to harvest as many nuts as we can.
Despite 90-degree days,
autumn seems to be making its move.

It’s fascinating watching lives
unfold.
The only alpaca here
who has not been gelded,
Mr. Darcy is also the friendliest—
always offering “kisses”
(soft sniffing
around the neck and nose)
to anyone who comes into the pen.
Eventually, we noticed
he especially was curious
about young men
and then we noticed
that he became quite animated
around young men
and now he is downright assertive
around young men,
kicking up his heels at them—
rearing up and pushing them with his chest!
It took another alpaca grower
to clue us in
that he is in a testosterone phase,
stating his dominance.
Little did we know.
Even in his most lively moments,
he’s harmless:
can’t bite (no front teeth on top),
and his kicks are not hard.
He can knock you off balance.
And his surprising behavior
is intimidating.
We warn every young man
who comes near the pen.

A young visitor encounters Darcy’s shift
from soft sniffing to more assertive moves

Black Orpington hen with soft new crop of feathers

Now we watch as
the black Orpington hen
changes.
First, she began losing
her feathers
and growing fluffly new ones.
Then, in the evening,
instead of going into the barn
to roost for the night,
as she always had,
she began roosting
on a bucketful
of alpaca beans (poop)
sitting outside the barn.
So, every evening,
we lift her off the bucket
as she squawks.
We carry her into the barn,
safer from night time predators,
as she mumbles at us.
It’s so interesting,
the stages we go through,
the changes we make,
as our lives
unfold.

Dave and Ruth Atterbury cleaning the barn

Collecting prairie flowers

Dressing the table

Guests arriving

Visiting with the alpacas

Gathering along Doe Creek


Chef Barb and Alexis from Kam’s Kookery


Elizabeth Box Price welcoming all

Chef Barbara


Board members, Dorothy, Bruce, Barbara,
ready to serve dessert


Elizabeth and Mary Moloney, who founded Green Connections


Guests enjoying the evening


Ann Zimmerman singing in the round-top barn

It’s really the simplest
of evenings.
But the coming together
of these simple elements
is profoundly gracious:
people who care about the planet
gathering together,
visiting alpacas and goats
and a little house made out of mud and straw bales;
a gentle chef who helps grow the evening’s
scrumptious, healthy, environmentally-kind, locally-grown food;
wonderful wine from a fine Oklahoma vintner, Woods and Waters;
time together at table
on the prairie
beside trees along the creek
in view of the western sky, turning pink, as Earth rolls up and sun disappears;
an evening stroll up a country road
to enjoy sweet, thought-filled music
in a round-topped barn;
a telescoped view of the moon, half-bright,
and fond farewells.
We do this once a year—
this, the fourth annual Green Connections Prairie Dinner and Concert.
I wish we could
every week—
come together
to enjoy the simplest
and most profoundly beautiful
elements of life.

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us a universe, a part limited in time and space. {We} experience {ourselves}, {our} thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical delusion of {our} consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

—Albert Einstein

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